North Coast Feis 2014 Grade Levels Review

Our recent move up to PC (like how I said ‘our’, I really mean TGC ;)  ) I have had a hard time trying to capture review info for the entire feis. I guess I was grade specific before this though, so the tides have turned. Anyway, some WTF followers have graciously submitted their thoughts regarding the feis which can be found below.  Since their comments are listed with names on Facebook I have added first names here, but I did receive some comments from people who would prefer not to have their names listed.

If you have more comments, please add them in the comment section below.

“The incredible delay on Stage C for the grades was totally unacceptable but other than that it was a great Feis overall.

5 dances, same judge for 4 of them. Dancing stopped for 45 minutes because a judge had a conflict w one of the dancers waiting to take the stage so the poor girls sat in the chairs for an hour (it was the split 410TJ A/B group). First group danced and then they rotated and the new judge couldn’t score the 2nd group. 45 minutes later they moved two first Feis reel groups to the stage and then had the 510 TJ girls dance. Rotated the judges again and the one who judged the 410 TJA group came back and remained through HP and TS. We could have been done before noon and ended up still waiting for results at 2:00.

*TCG also said that the music was very hard to hear, especially when awards were being given out behind stage B and C. ”

Christy D.

*Editors Note: That TGC is Christie’s girl child, not mine. I think I need to trademark ‘TGC’ ;)

  •  Stage A – after lunch late start because of stage C with figures & TR but missing a judge was the problem
  • My dancer – 5 dances with 4 judges
  • I think ALL the vendors including Ballinvilla & the dresses would have fit in the bigger room
  • Didn’t know until after that sandwiches were available in a room by the used dress room
  • Results were up quickly
  • It was a good day for my dancers & I won a basket

Kristin

I had 2 dancers competing in the North Coast Feis, my 9yr old daughter and me 7yr old son, who was a 1st time feiser. Upon our arrival, it took forever to be checked in because we had to wait in a very long line for our “M” last name. I know that’s to be expected at a large feis. However, since we had a 1st time feiser also dancing, we had to then go to the end of another line and wait all over again instead of them just checking both in at the same time. The line’s were labeled, but you couldn’t see where to stand unless you were 1st in line… not 15-20 deep! We then assumed it was the farthest line to the left, which it was, but no one knew because you couldn’t see. So there was just one mass group of people all mixed together for 1st time feisers and A-?. It was just one big cluster @#$!. Everyone was complaining and confused, and in the wrong lines. By the time we made it through both lines, with everyone jumping in and out of lines because the were in the wrong lines, we had spent over a 1/2 just checking in.

Although we had arrived “early,” when we finally made it down to the camping area, we had no time to get ready due to the delay. It was so packed we had no place to set our things. I had 4 kids under the of age 9 in tow, and 4 adults, and there was no place to stand or sit to get ready except the main isles. Dance families had taken over huge areas in the camping sections and the stage seating areas, leaving no room for other dance families. We literally dressed and undressed the kids in the main isle for lack of space and time.

Furthermore, the judge that was supposed to be present for stage F was a no show due to severe weather up in Chicago. I can fully understand the situation, but it was so horribly dealt with. The 1st time feisers happened to assigned to stage F. We were supposed to check at stage F regardless even though they would be moved. Usually the 1st feisers are 1st up to compete, but in this case they had them on later.. much later. The didn’t even perform the reel until after 12pm. Since we had another dancer competing in 5 events on a different stage, it was hard to run back and forth to Stage F every 5 minutes to see when and where they were going to reassign the stage F dancers. When our son was finally up to dance, he sat another 1/2 hour until another stage came available. So while we would be watching one child perform on Stage E, our younger 1st time feiser would be escorted from Stage F in our absence. We immediately ran over both times to find out where they’d been reassigned the 1st feisers, but they had no idea, and just blew us off. So we had a hell of time finding the dancers and nearly missed our son perform for the 1st time ever due to their lack of knowledge and communication.

To make matters worse, there were only 3 – 1st time Feisers there that day, and when they finally did make it to a stage to dance, no one would step aside to allow the families of those 3 dancers to stand or sit to watch. I literally had to crawl on the floor between peoples legs to see my son dance for the first time.

As I mentioned before, the 1st time feisers didn’t even finish dancing until after 12pm. Couldn’t they have just had them dance there to short dances first thing in the morning, and gotten them out of the way of all the more experienced dancers? We didn’t get results until almost 1pm, and of course there was no rhyme or reason to how and which lane to stand in at the results table. Again, everyone was confused and complaining around us.

** As a side note, my daughter was a 1st time Feiser at the North Coast Feis a few years ago, and we had a poor experience that time too as “Newbies”. Having now had 2 dancers attend North Coast Feis as 1st time feisers, on two different occasions, bad experiences both times.. In my humble opinion, I don’t think I would recommend this feis to other 1st time feisers.

Sorry so long.. but I felt our experience was worth mentioning. Take what you will from it in your review.

Anonymous

This last comment was posted on the PC/OC review and I took the liberty of copying it here.

This was our first time at NCF. As the mom of a grade level dancer, I have a few thoughts (as I usually do. lol!).

There was a slightly unfortunate issue with Stage F (which is where my dancer was mainly scheduled to dance): it was missing a judge and a musician. I heard that the judge was stuck in Chicago, but never did hear about the musician. The communication about this was pretty much word-of-mouth and not everyone got the word. Understandably, there were some seriously irritated parents and dancers as dancers were shuffled from stage to stage. The teen volunteers at stage F were amazing. They kept their cool, and smiles, even when people were flat out yelling in their faces, and did an extraordinary job of making sure every dancer was present before any dance scheduled for Stage F began (regardless of where the dance had been transferred to). I can’t commend them enough. Those in charge….I can’t commend so much. Considering that I received an email seemingly every 3 minutes about PC/OC results, it is clear they had the ability to communicate what was happening with stage F and could have saved so much frustration just by communicating the information throughout the day to ensure everyone got the word. It would have made for a much more relaxed experience for everyone, especially their volunteers.

The stages felt a little smallish for my dancer (who is U13) and those older, and even leggier, than she is. They were well cared for, though, and I didn’t see any slipping or falls. The judge rotation was great! Best we’ve encountered thus far. She got to dance for, and get feedback from, about 4 judges for 6 dances. And they all gave helpful feedback, smiled at the dancers, and despite all the frustrations they were very encouraging to the dancers. Can’t complain about that. :-). My dancer also really appreciated that there was a fantastic practice stage!

The musicians were great, mostly accordions, and there wasn’t any music blending together from stage to stage. The musician at stage E got pretty upset because people kept jumping over the barrier behind her and it was quite disruptive. Why they didn’t have the tensabarriers set up to allow a walk way between stages D & E was a mystery. Not only was it annoying that there was only 1 way to enter the grade level stages, it also seemed rather unsafe given the number of people. Had there been an emergency, it would have been a bad situation. Hopefully that will be rethought next year.

I felt the space was plenty roomy and there was a lot of camping available, don’t know why people weren’t using it. Dining tables were at a premium and people were camping at them! Tables were “claimed” with stuff and then left largely unoccupied and we had to eat on the floor. Hopefully that will be forbidden in the future.

For the most part, results were posted very promptly. For whatever reason, however, my dancer’s last dance was not posted for 40 minutes. The vendors were all packing up, stages were being torn down, and there wasn’t much to do during the wait. It was very frustrating. Worth it though, as it was the 2nd place needed for my dancer to claim the title of “Novice” in all her dances. :-).

That’s the perspective of one grade level dancer’s mom……

Anonymous

Did you catch the barrier busting on stage E? I was so ticked off. Silly, thoughtless folk disturbing an entire competition busting thru where it says no entrance.

…Guess I’m one protective mama bear when it comes to those kids. Hoping folks want that too.

A Grade Level Stage Musician

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3 Comments

Lark

Hi Mike,
I know what you mean by it being tough to evaluate a whole feis now that “we” have moved to PC. But, in this case, I happen to have some insight, as I was running stage A at the NCF. The feis was run a little differently this year than in past years, and those changes, coupled with a couple of unfortunate snags, really made a mess of the grades stages. The first was the no-show judge, whose flight was delayed, and rather than wait, or find an sooner flight, simply decided to cancel altogether, leaving stage F without a starting judge. This was not the NCF’s fault, and they did not find out that the judge would be a no-show until early that morning. They way they decided to handle it for the stage F dancers was pretty good, I thought, but the execution was hampered by the fact that the rules for handling the integrations were not uniform. They were left up to the individual stage managers, and since almost all of them are “independent contractors” (i.e. hosted by individual dance schools/booster clubs), and the problem was unprecedented, we had a lot of variation in the way it was handled. On our stage, we simply slotted them in as the next dance when they came and things ran smoothly. As I understand for others, they had to wait until the end of each dance set, which backed things up at stage F and had ripple effects across the other stages as a result. Believe me when I say that rules *will* be put into place about how to handle this sort of thing in future so that all of the stages will be integrating ‘refugee’ dancers the same way.

Needless to say, judge rotation was also hampered by being short a judge, and by the fact that the person who was the “judge wrangler” was doing it for the first time – a really unfortunate time to be learning on the job. We ended up having to make dancers sit for quite some time in the afternoon while we waited for judges to rotate, in one case, by nearly 35 minutes. During this time we kept the dancers and parents at the stage informed about what was happening, and were active about hunting down judges so that we could get things going again. Stages which were managed by less aggressive folks probably found themselves waiting longer and without communicating the problem to the dancers and parents, a bunch of aggravated (or, more accurately, even MORE aggravated) people to deal with. We did not make our dancers stay seated, allowed them to get up, walk around (as long as they stayed near the seating area), stretch, have conversations, get water, etc. In dealing with stuff like this, I’ve found that humor and flexibility go a long way toward shortening fuses and making the wait more tolerable.

Another thing that bollexed things up, IMHO was the decision to allow the stages to break for lunch whenever they reached the end of the younger dancers, rather than all at the same time. This left the efficient stages, like ours, at lunch while the less efficient stages were still working. At the end of our 30 minute break time, most of the other stages were still working through their earlier dancers – a big problem. Our ‘lunch break’ was almost an hour and a half long, by the time all of the ceilis and treble reels were done and we could start up again. If I have my way, we’ll be going back to the “everybody breaks at noon” model. We’ll see how far I get. :-)

In the meantime, thanks for posting this – I’ll be passing it on for the followup meeting and I’d like to apologize to everyone on behalf of the NCF in an unofficial capacity for the aggro and delays. Normally, this is a really well-run feis that simply got knocked for a loop they were unprepared for. At least for *this* particular problem, I doubt that they’ll be caught with their pants down a second time.

Reply
Mike

Lark!

First of all, I can’t believe I missed the chance to meet you IRL. We probably passed each other at least once. I will make every attempt to not let that happen again.

Thanks for the NCF ‘informal’ response. I try to caveat my comments with ‘but I have never run a feis’ and I know that doesn’t help, but actually having insight into what was going on may.

Thanks for the feedback!

Reply
Lark

P.S. I somehow missed the part about the poor communication with the stage F dancers/parents – that really is inexcusable, and if there wasn’t a big sign posted at the stage letting everyone know the problem, I will lobby to make certain that there will be in any future such problems. I don’t know which group was responsible for running that stage, but they shouldn’t have been left to communicate the problems and deal with the fallout on their own by the feis organizers. I’ll see if we can get that fixed.

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